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I'm just sayin'

Sometimes, someone realizes my initials spell a word and tell me that's neat. I might nod or smile, even though I am very not stoked that my initials form an acronym. I mean, JAW, how clumsy is that? If my initials spelled something cool like, I don't know, SEX, YES, or NASCAR, I'd thank my parents for their hipster sensibilities. But even neglecting the nifty, there's a pragmatic reason my initials don't thrill me, and that reason has to do with the idea that more is less.

There are twenty-six letters in the English alphabet. Of them all, only one letter has a name with more than one syllable: W. And as if to rub the noses of its playmates in the fact that they are merely monosyllabic, W has to venture into the territory of polysyllabicity not with two, but with three syllables. 1 In oral communication, “www” takes three times as much time to say as “world wide web.” Part of the problem is that what was meant to be a time-saver in the context of typing is a time-waster in the context of speech. The other part of the problem is that “www” adds no distinguishing information for people surfing the web. How many webservers provide different information for WWW.somedomain.tld as opposed to just somedomain.tld?

In URLs (Uniform Resource Locators), “www” stands for “world wide web.” But that's brain-dead since clients which request information using HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) assume such requests are bound for a webserver. This combined with the fact that other protocols like FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and gopher are either unused or unambiguous means “WWW” is as redundant and useful as saying “PIN number” or “HIV virus.”

So because when speaking the URL http://WWW.google.com/ I find myself stumbling over the triple w and because I believe “www” is a completely useless subdomain, I've decided to implement URL rewriting using .htaccess as described in the Daring Fireball article “Using .htaccess Redirection to Standardize Web Server Addresses.” 2 I suppose, though, that I may be going in the wrong direction since even Google routes users who ask for just google.com to www.google.com. 3

Maybe it's a marketing thing. If so, it's a good thing I have nothing to sell. end of article


1 Unless, of course, your regional dialect prompts you to pronounce W as “dubya.” In that case, I promise I will still respect you in the morning.

2 Color me dumb, but I cannot make rewrite rules for multiple virtual hosts work properly within Apache's httpd.conf.

3 Predictably enough, a Google search for the terms “redirect,” “domain,” and “www” yields results that are dominated by instructions for redirecting traffic from http://somedomain.com/ to http://WWW.somedomain.com. I'm definitely bucking the trend.